Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Commander: Reminiscences

Commander came to me in November 2009. His then owner, Rick, had fought him through his first battle with founder, had won the gallant Morgan back to soundness, but wanted to ride more aggressively than he felt would be fair to Commander. So when our paths chanced to cross and I learned the Mighty Morgan needed a new home; when Rick saw the home I could offer, and the large amiable Thoroughbred Commander could be buddies with, we struck a simple deal: Commander became my horse "for one dollar in hand and other valuable consideration." That consideration was a loving lifelong home where Rick was welcome to come visit whenever he wished.

It was a good deal for all concerned, and for a year and a half, till the founder struck again, it was unalloyed fun. Even during the roller coaster ride of the disease there were long stretches of good times. The bad times expanded; the good times dwindled; but Commander never lost his inner fire, nor the love of those who knew him.

I kept Rick informed about Commander's health, of course, and Rick visited as often as he could, always offering me moral support and trust in my judgment for Commander's care. On Sunday, when it became apparent that this was likely to be the end, Rick came to see his old friend for the last time and say goodbye. He chose not to be present for the euthanasia, a decision I respected and concurred with.

When it was over I called Rick, as he'd requested, got his voicemail, and said what had to be said; later that day sent him the death notice email, the text of which is this blog's preceding post; and in the evening received the reply below, published here with his consent.

Truly, Commander was well loved.



I was thinking about Commander, as I often do, today a little after 10:00am. Somehow I knew he was gone. The phone never rang, but about 11:20am I noticed a voicemail on my phone. I listened with some trepidation, and when I heard your sad voice it was confirmed. It's sad to say goodbye to an old friend. For me, he will always be that one great horse! He was not for everyone, but he was perfect for me. I always felt I could ride that horse safely through anything, and I did, although, many would question my judgement at times :o)! But he would always go willingly. I have had him in water up to his back, and one time I turned him into a submarine when I misjudged how deep the river was. We stepped in and his head disappeared under the water. I suppose that is why I would let him get away with ground shenanigans that most horse owners frown on. Frankly, I liked it and he knew it because we had a relationship and an understanding. Although he could be a handful for some adults, he carried on his back evryone from inexperienced riders to young children. He would be gentle as a kitten with those who were most delicate. He was so kind and gentle to a little boy with down syndrome that lived next door, and I saw him with his muzzle gently move a baby kitten back and to the side when it wandered into his hay pile. Then there was the day Carol tried to take his mare, and he chased her onto a manure pile and kept her there! He knew the difference. Part of what I loved about him was also what frustrated me about him...he was so smart. He needed to be busy with something. Even my last visit with him, he was so "Commander" as I entered the barn he was gazing out the window. Not one other horse was interested in the wild weather out side, but Commander always enjoyed a view.

Commander had a few owners, and bounced around a bit in his youth, but he found two people that would love and understand him. I was the right person for many years, but Commander hit the jackpot when he found you. I have to tell you that my heart always felt good about Commander going to you. You gave him the best care, love and respect. Like I said, he was not a horse for just anyone, but you were without a doubt, the right person for him. Like I said, Commander is probably the smartest horse we will ever know, and he was a good judge of character. You are a wonderful person and you gave him a wonderful life. Being there when he needed you most and making a very tough decision are just recent examples of your great care. He will be missed. Every time we open our hearts to great love, we also open our hearts to great sadness....but it is always worth it. It is sad to say goodbye to an old friend, but we are blessed to have had such a friend to say good bye to. I hope he is on green pastures running like the wind reborn to his healthy youthful self. And someday I hope to see him again...I told him as much. Thank you for loving him. He knew it and appreciated it!


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